- Survey provides insight into health trends of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- New HEP CURED campaign to connect and support
- Despite COVID, our hep B community education continues
- YABUN goes online for 2021
- Online community provides hep B and liver health support
Survey provides insight into health trends of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood borne viruses (BBVs) – such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV – compared to non Indigenous Australians. A new publication, GOANNA Survey 2, published by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHAMRI), builds on social and behavioural data relating to STIs and BBVs from a large sample of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The survey was done at sporting and community events and established a baseline for ongoing surveillance to monitor trends over time. Over 1,300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 29 years participated across six mainland jurisdictions.
GOANNA Survey 2 updates and adds to the evidence base, identifies changes since the first survey, and explores new issues relevant to sexual and BBV health. Data was collected from late 2017 to early January 2020, with the survey looking at:
- knowledge of STIs and BBVs;
- relationships and behaviours that may underlie STI and BBV risk;
- access to health care for testing, treatment and support for STIs, BBVs; and
- drug and alcohol use.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the findings around hepatitis C, although the whole document is important and essential reading.
Hepatitis C testing
The survey revealed 32% of respondents reported they had ever been tested for hepatitis C, with 23% tested in the last year. A smaller proportion of respondents in the 16 19 are range reported they had been tested for hep C, with only 13% tested in the last year. This compares to 28% of 20 24-year-olds and 32% of 25 29-year-olds. Of respondents who reported injecting drug use in the last 12 months, 45% had ever been tested for hep C, and among those with a history of imprisonment, 44% had been previously tested. Just over half of hep C tests were conducted at an Aboriginal Medical Service followed by a third at general practices; this was regardless of age, gender or residential location.
Hepatitis C diagnosis and treatment
Of those tested for hep C, 4% were told they were positive for the virus (that is PCR, or HCV RNA, positive). Positivity was 47% for those with injecting drug use in the previous 12 months and 15% for those who had previously been imprisoned. Nine of the hep C positive respondents (53%) had not previously had treatment. Among other respondents who had been tested, eighteen, or 5%, had previously been treated for hepatitis C.
New HEP CURED campaign to connect and support
Following 2020’s extended and highly successful run of the Clearing The Path (No Fake News – Treatment Works) Campaign, Hepatitis NSW, in partnership with NUAA, will soon launch the HEP CURED Campaign.
This new communications campaign is based on, and developed from, research with NSW people who inject drugs. Originally due to launch last year, COVID-19 restrictions meant it had to be delayed. HEP CURED will now launch in March 2021 across the state.
The campaign’s message and imagery aims to tap into the motivators that will attract people to test for hep C and then, if required, start treatment.
Images being used in HEP CURED emphasise inclusion, connection, positive relationships, and a brighter future. The social researchers who assisted in understanding the audience for this campaign reported:
“Though… HEP CURED was thought of as both a clear and strong visual message, the impact of the platform is really enhanced by the imagery. It very much depends on the imagery to evoke an emotional response to the campaign. The imagery conveys being in a situation together, having each other’s backs and being supported – in the present, through the treatment process and in the future. In addition to this, the variety of hands and expressions through the hands represent a diversity and strength of relationships – between partners, family, friends, and the community. The platform and subheading convey the message about treatment, but it is the imagery that individuals found empowering and positive.”
HEP CURED will appear in and around 90 Needle Syringe Program (NSPs) services, with peer worker promotion and advertising placed in shopping centres, pharmacies, pubs and clubs, on selected major public transport routes and on street furniture, with the first burst in March, building to a second burst and additional live components around Hepatitis Awareness Week in late July.
Despite COVID, our hep B community education continues
Hepatitis NSW works to improve health outcomes for people living with or affected by viral hepatitis. Delivering hep B related health information sessions and distributing free health information resources to at risk communities is key activity to help us meet our goals. From mid-2020, the pandemic significantly impacted on our ability to do our popular face-to-face events, so we acted to move our events and activities online. We also worked to grow our online presence with more digital information and resources. As a result, we are now able to offer education and resource delivery with both live and online options.
Belmore education session for Cantonese seniors
In early December, Hepatitis NSW delivered our first face-to-face hep B community education session since March last year. This exciting event was for Cantonese speaking seniors at Belmore Citizen Centre. Most of the participants were over 70 years old, most of whom came to Australia several decades ago and now live with their children and grandchildren.
Hepatitis B is a major public health problem in China, as childhood vaccination was not readily available until 1990s. Therefore, people from China who were born before that time are at risk of having the disease, but not know it or not have it properly managed. Given hepatitis B is highly infectious, it is important for them to their hep B status.
We received massive support throughout the session from staff and volunteers from the centre. They helped to arrange a Cantonese speaking translator to accurately translate key health messages. We received positive feedback from the participants, who reported increased knowledge of hep B transmission, vaccination, treatment, and monitoring.
Participants at the end of the session correctly identified that the hep B virus cannot be passed on by sharing food and utensils; this is a big misconception about hep B transmission in the Chinese community, so it was extremely positive that attendees recognised this myth.
The group leader asked hepatitis NSW to provide another session for their clients in 2021. We can’t wait to go back!
HotterWest Event – Hep B Zoom Education
The HotterWest Event – run by Westmead Hospital Storr Liver Centre Clinical Nurse Consultants and Hepatitis NSW bilingual staff – supports patients managing their hepatitis B and reduces the risk of liver cancer through providing a range of services and information. Dr Thomas Tu was invited to attend the December session to share his expert knowledge and experience. Dr Thomas Tu is the leading researcher on the hepatitis B virus at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research.
The event was held online via Zoom in the early evening to make it easier for people with other responsibilities commitments to join in. Twenty-one people attended the event, which was extremely positive.
The session was dynamic, and people were extremely engaged and asked many questions. Patients enquired about hep B testing, and some shared their personal stories of hep B treatment. It was a positive and highly interactive session. Frequently asked questions provided a useful insight into knowledge gaps among patients. These key learnings will be embedded into the learning materials for future sessions. Attendees received a gift pack from Hepatitis NSW as a thank you for their participation.
YABUN goes online for 2021
Yabun is a one-of-a-kind event that honours the survival of the world’s oldest living culture. It is the largest one day gathering in recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Australia. It has been held annually on 26 January, upon the traditional lands of the Gadigal people in Sydney, at Camperdown’s Victoria Park.
Established in 2001, Yabun (meaning ‘music to a beat’ in Gadigal language) is a free event that has featured live music, bustling markets, panel discussions and community forums on Aboriginal issues, children’s activities, and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural performances.
In previous years, Hepatitis NSW, along with other 414 Close the Gap partners, have participated in the Yabun stalls market. Hepatitis NSW, ACON, NUAA, SWOP, and Positive Life, are all based at 414 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills, and have shared a stall at Yabun. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, there are no stalls this year.
This year you can experience Corroboree Ground, the Yabun Stage and Speak Out from the comfort of your own home, streaming to most digital platforms.
26 January | 11:00am -5:00 pm
Live: Koori Radio 93.7 FM
January 26 is a day of survival and mourning, not a day of celebration. On this day, Hepatitis NSW and our sector stand with First Nations people.
A new safe and inclusive online community forum, for people with hepatitis B, and their families, is now available. The Hep B Connect platform connects people with one another and provides access to trustworthy expert advice and ongoing guidance to healthy living. The forum is supported by Hepatitis NSW, The Storr Liver Centre, Hepatitis B Foundation, Australian Liver Foundation and many other related organisations.
This is a simple and grassroots-driven way to improve people’s lives and help them access the best information to live with their condition. Users can manage their privacy to control the information made available to the public, allowing them to discuss without judgement.
The platform verifies users who are health or scientific experts, so you can be sure that the advice you are given comes from a reputable source.
Previous and current discussions on the forum have helped people navigate their recent hepatitis B diagnosis, understand why they aren’t being treated, provide tips on how to lead healthy lifestyles, and more.
If you are affected by hepatitis B (or know someone who has been), a health expert, or a patient advocate then you are warmly welcomed to join the Hep B Connect community.
Visit Hep B Connect >>>CLICK HERE